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Respectable performance for Ceres High varsity Bulldogs
Seeking an upset, Ceres High School's winless varsity football team trailed by just one point during halftime of its Valley Oak League opener with undefeated Sonora.

The Wildcats scored three times in the third quarter en route to securing a tough-earned 35-19 victory over the Bulldogs Friday night at Dunlavy Field.

Ceres High head coach Brett Johnson wasn't disappointed in his team's effort. The Bulldogs were embarrassed 34-0 at home by Calaveras the previous week.

"I'm proud of the kids," he said. "We battled from start to finish. There were a lot of bright spots. We'll pray the confidence carries over to this week."

Ceres High dropped to 0-4 overall and 0-1 in the VOL standings.

Sonora moved to 4-0, 1-0.

Undefeated Oakdale (4-0, 1-0) will host the Bulldogs this Friday at 7:15 p.m. The Mustangs routed the Central Valley Hawks 35-7 last week.

"It's the toughest league in the Valley from top to bottom," Johnson said. "I don't hesitate to say that with confidence."

Ceres High quarterback Josh Edwards (15 completions, 183 yards) threw two touchdown passes to Bulldog receiver Justin Canatsy (9 catches, 136 yards), and also scored on a sneak against the Wildcats.

Bulldog all-purpose player Nick Sandoval had a 68-yard kickoff return.

The Wildcats relied heavily on their running game (36 carries, 307 yards).

Dan Link carried the ball 18 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns.

Brendon Kamier gained 131 yards and scored once on just eight attempts. He also caught a 34-yard TD pass from Ryan Emerald.

Hadon Lopez, Brandon Jolley, Jesse Gutierrez and Dashawn Mena led Ceres High's defensive unit.

Lopez returned to the field after missing the first three games with a knee injury. The team's star linebacker registered 10 tackles.

"It was great to have him (Hadon) back," Johnson said. "He brings a different dimension to the defense with his speed and hard hitting."

Jolley had 10 tackles and two fumble recoveries.

Gutierrez tallied five tackles and one fumble recovery.

Mena made four tackles and recovered a fumble.

Ceres High trailed 14-13 at intermission.

Edwards played a part in both of the Bulldogs' touchdowns.

"We were pretty confident and excited going into halftime," Johnson said. "It was very positive and upbeat."

Even the referees seemed surprised by Ceres High's stellar play.

"You guys must be shocked," one side official said to Ceres' coaching staff.

"Are you kidding me?" Johnson thought to himself. "Does he know anything about football? We went into the game expecting to play our best."

Ceres High challenged Sonora for the second straight year. The Wildcats escaped with a 35-34 win last season as Edwards got sacked before he could get the potential game-winning two-point conversion pass off.

The Bulldogs had a number of players suffer injuries during the 2009 meeting, including Edwards, Brent Ward, Vince Tomao, Jeremy Cagle, Marc Ortega and Justin Jones.

Edwards twisted his right knee while getting tackled late in the fourth quarter.

"He might be done for the season," Johnson said.